Various groups held protests and counter-protests in Central on Saturday on the issue of refugees in Hong Kong.

Photo: Dan Garrett.
Photo: Dan Garrett.

Demonstrators belonging to the pro-Beijing Liberal Party marched to the Central Government Offices from Chater Garden in Central, holding placards that said “We want closed camps” and “Deport fake refugees”.

Photo: Dan Garrett.
Photo: Dan Garrett.

They were led by Dominic Lee Tsz-King, the chairman of the Liberal Party’s Youth Committee. Around 100 to 200 took part in the anti-refugee rally, according to Oriental Daily and Sing Tao Daily.

Photo: Dan Garrett.
Photo: Dan Garrett.

Meanwhile, different groups also held counter-protests at Chater Garden. Socialist Action protesters waved signs comparing New People’s Party Chairwoman Regina Ip to Hitler and Donald Trump, and accusing her of being racist and a dictator.

Photo: Dan Garrett.

This was a reference to Ip’s suggestion in March that the government should put refugees in a closed camp outside of Hong Kong to deter “fake” refugees.

See also: DAB party sets up in Tsim Sha Tsui calling for ‘fake’ refugees to be put in camp and deported

Photo: Dan Garrett.

Activists from Refugee Union were also seen raising banners that read: “Assistance not oppression” and “Camps are double torture”.

Photo: Dan Garrett.

In a separate demonstration near Central Government Offices, counter-protesters waved apparently satirical placards bearing the logos of pro-establishment parties that said “Gas them!” and “Tax refugee go home”.

Photo: Dan Garrett.

The protesters and counter-protesters came into confrontation with each other and were separated by police.

Photo: Dan Garrett.

The protests came amid increasingly heated discussion over the refugee question in Hong Kong.

Photo: Dan Garrett.

In January, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying proposed withdrawing from the United Nations convention on torture to block “fake” refugees from coming to the city, a suggestion that has been heavily criticised by NGOs.

Photo: Dan Garrett.

Over 90 organisations and 70 individuals then signed a joint statement released by NGO Justice Centre in April, calling for the Hong Kong community and government to work together to stop discrimination towards refugees.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.